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Chapter One, titled The Rise of the Converso Problem, provides the historical context for the mass conversions of 1391. It will do so by providing a survey of important events in the history of Iberian Jewry from the Late Roman Period until the massacres of1391.
The second chapter, titled Christian Attitudes Towards Conversos, surveys the range of Christian views towards Conversos during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The idea of super sessionism was critical to Christians' understanding of Jews. This idea that Christians had replaced the Jews as the chosen people of God was and remains a cornerstone of Christian thought.
The third chapter, titled Jewish Attitudes Towards Apostates, will review the social and theological challenges that apostasy posed for Jews. While most Jews understood the circumstances they faced, Conversos had technically adopted a pagan religion. This fact impacted various aspects of Jewish identity including marriage and divorce, and the permissibility of food and wine prepared by apostates. How relapsed converts were accepted and treated in the Jewish community is another point of interest. Chapter six will expand on this topic by providing greater detail on concrete examples of interaction between Jews and Conversos.
The fourth chapter, titled Types of Conversos, relates the major categories of Conversos which existed and the motivations for their conversions. It will be demonstrated that most converts were not sincere in their conversions and did so only to escape violence, crippling poverty, or judicial punishment. Others did so to break free of the social and economic limitations Jews had increasingly endured as a religious minority under Christian rule.
The fifth chapter, titled Skeptical Conversos, focuses on those Conversos who gave up on both religious traditions and endeavored to create a world where religious affiliations were no longer the determining factor in a person's life. The violence of 1391 had presented them with a choice of life or death. Their coerced adoption of Christianity and the anti-Converso sentiment that arose may have led them to conclude that all religious beliefs were pointless.
The sixth chapter, titled Jewish Attitudes Towards Conversos, will discuss the range of emotions and attitudes towards Conversos, which were held by unbaptized Jews. The continuing family bonds, which tied Jews and Conversos were an important factor in the relations between these two groups. Even those Jews not bound by blood were often supportive of Conversos and expressed this by providing them with kosher food, teaching them Hebrew, and giving them access to Jewish ritualitems. They risked their fortunes and lives in doing so.
The seventh chapter, titled Modern Day Conversos, will survey various accounts of modern Conversos ranging from Spain and Portugal to Latin America, and the American Southwest. Hundreds if not thousands of individuals, from Hispanic backgrounds, have claimed Converso ancestry and have acted to reintegrate themselves into the Jewish community in some form or fashion.
The last chapter, titled The Crypto-Jewish Controversy, discusses the scholarly debate over the veracity of Inquisitional records. The discussion is important since how the motivations of the Inquisition impacts how the subject of Crypto-Judaism is understood. A brief review of scholarship on the Inquisition and Crypto-Judaism is included.